◀ ▲ ▶History / Early-middle-ages / Person: Al-Battani, Abu Abdallah Mohammad ibn Jabir
Person: Al-Battani, Abu Abdallah Mohammad ibn Jabir
Al-Battani or Albategnius was an Islamic astronomer and mathematician. He made important accurate measurements of the stars, moon and planets. His measurements and methods were used by later astronomers.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- His full name was Abu Abdallah Mohammad ibn Jabir ibn Sinan al-Raqqi al-Harrani al-Sabi al-Battani.
- Al-Battani was born in Harran, called Carrhae in earlier times by the Romans, which lies on the Balikh River, 38 km southeast of Urfa.
- Thabit was also born in Harran and would have still have been living there at the time that al-Battani was born.
- Al-Battani, unlike Thabit, was not a believer in the Sabian religion, however, for "Abu Abdallah Mohammad" indicates that he was certainly a Muslim.
- Al-Battani made his remarkably accurate astronomical observations at Antioch and ar-Raqqah in Syria.
- The town of ar-Raqqah, where most of al-Battani's observations were made, became prosperous when Harun al-Rashid, who became the fifth Caliph of the Abbasid dynasty on 14 September 786, built several palaces there.
- The town had been renamed al-Rashid at that time but, by the time al-Battani began observing there, it had reverted to the name of ar-Raqqah.
- Other information about al-Battani contained in the Fihrist is that he observed between the years 877 and 918 and that his star catalogue is based on the year 880.
- Al-Battani reached Baghdad and put his arguments but died on the return journey to ar-Raqqah.
- The Fihrist also quotes a number of works by al-Battani.
- Al-Battani's Kitab al-Zij is by far his most important work and we should examine briefly the topics which it covered.
- Chapter 4 contains data from al-Battani's own observations.
- The motions of the sun, moon and five planets are discussed in chapters 27 to 31, where the theory given is that of Ptolemy but for al-Battani the theory appears less important than the practical aspects.
- After giving results to allow data given for one era to be converted to another era, al-Battani then gives 16 chapters which explain how his tables are to be read.
- What are the main achievements of al-Battani's Zij?
- Rather than using geometrical methods, as Ptolemy had done, al-Battani used trigonometrical methods which were an important advance.
- Al-Battani showed that the farthest distance of the Sun from the Earth varies and, as a result, annular eclipses of the Sun are possible as well as total eclipses.
- This was despite the fact that al-Battani could deduce a value for the distance from his own observations that differed greatly from Ptolemy's.
- Al-Battani is important in the development of science for a number of reasons, but one of these must be the large influence his work had on scientists such as Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Copernicus.
- The author suggests that al-Battani obtained much more accurate results simply because his observations were made from a more southerly latitude.
- For al-Battani refraction had little effect on his meridian observations at the winter solstice because, at his more southerly site of ar-Raqqah, the sun was higher in the sky.
- Al-Battani's Kitab al-Zij was translated into Latin as De motu stellarum Ⓣ(On the motion of the stars) by Plato of Tivoli.
Born about 850, Harran (near Urfa), Mesopotamia (now Turkey). Died 929, Qasr al-Jiss, Iraq.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Ancient Arab, Astronomy, Origin Turkey
Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive